A wise bishop and canon lawyer once told me that canon law is ultimately meant to be pastoral, and when it ceases to be pastoral, it is no longer law. He wasn’t advocating that we toss out the rules whenever they don’t suit us.
Similar to Jesus’s critique in today’s Gospel, he was calling us to understand the broader purpose of the law and its implementation—namely, to show mercy for those on the margins and to secure justice for those oppressed. Law and its enforcement resulting in anything else no longer acts as law according to its purpose.As those who desire to teach with true authority, may we instruct with both our words and actions to communicate and reveal God’s mercy for those in need. Click To Tweet
Jesus encourages his disciples to follow the teachings of the experts of the law, the scribes and Pharisees, but to condemn their practice of it, which is neither merciful nor just. He describes the hallmark of authoritative teaching, which is humility and transparency that redirects attention to the Father in heaven and not to oneself.
Since the days of Saint Paul, there have always been celebrities and compelling teachers of the faith. With social media and self-publishing, many more Catholic personalities today vie for our attention, and as leaders, we, too, hold some level of prominence in our communities. As those who desire to teach with true authority, may we instruct with both our words and actions to communicate and reveal God’s mercy for those in need.